IT'S ONLY NATURAL
COMMENTS FROM FRIENDS,
FANS, AND RANDOM FOLKS
COMMENTS FROM CRITICS
( ∆ - Denotes a different person )
∆“Really enjoying your cd! Great stuff! A lotta fun.”
∆"GREAT ALBUM!" "Love the guitar!" "Cool Album, dude!"
∆“This is the music we’ve been missing!”
∆"Just calling to tell you your new album is fabulous."
∆"Amazing production and quality of sound! Great album!"
∆"My favorite track is 'Things That Make Me Cry'"
∆"I love 'He’s Coming Home!'"
∆"Really like 'Where There’s Smoke!'”
∆"I love 'Where There’s Smoke!'”
∆"Really enjoyed your CD!"
∆"I love your CD! It's right up my alley!"
∆"Funky! Really diverse - in a good way!"
∆“Amazing Guitar! Love the female singer!”
∆"We all sat around listening to your CD
& everyone really liked it!"
∆"Cool music. Cool guitars. Parts of it remind me of Frank Zappa."
∆"I've listened to your album literally EVERY DAY for four months. It's great!"
∆"I love your album! The guitar playing is fantastic!"
∆"I've been playing your album in my car everyday this summer! I know ALL the lyrics by heart!
Can't wait to see you guys live!"
∆“Amazing album, Dude! Amazing guitar! Really cool album!”
∆"' Things That Make Me Cry' is iconic!'"
∆"Really great album!"
∆"This music sounds as good as anything on the radio. In fact, it sounds BETTER than most things on the radio these days."
∆“My favorite tunes are For The Rising Sun & These Dreams… It hasn’t left my cd player…” (His 13 year-old son said: "This is the best cd you've ever played me Dad!)
∆“Hey man - album sounds great! Really nice mixing and mastering - everything’s clear and nice. Great job, man! The main thing is, is that you have SONGS! At the end of the musical rainbow, isn't that what everyone wants? IT'S A COOL ALBUM!"
∆“It won’t play in my car! It started on track 6, and then skipped all over... Sucked…” Brandon, NYC
(Brandon, the staff here at Randomaxe Records are truly & deeply sorry. As such, we have messengered you a new disc. Please inform us of any other difficulties you should encounter in this, or ANY area of life, and we’ll try to remedy it! God Speed, Brandon!) Update: Brandon liked it.
∆"IT'S ONLY NATURAL that I LOVE IT'S ONLY NATURAL!!!
∆"The singer's are great!
∆"Your music is like a life saver, savior, savor!"
∆"I haven’t been able to check the CD out because my 17-year-old son grabbed it and he won’t give it back!”
∆“The graphics are almost too good! Really cool artwork.”
∆“Only got to check out a couple of songs so far. Band sounds very tight. I’m very impressed with the production, the "design, the artwork, the lyric book. Demonstrates a lot of "careful thought, coordination, and planning. Dreaming is "easy, but converting dreams to reality takes some persistent "effort. Congratulations on another masterpiece!”
∆"I could not stop singing this song! (Where There's Smoke). It's catchy and you repeated lots of hooky elements in the lyrics and music." (Judge in a national song contest)
∆“Yo Bro - I’m diggin’ the Zan Zone record! The intro tune is "nice! Where There’s Smoke is cool too - nice licks and solo.
"The Hendrixy tune (He’s Coming Home) that the chick "sings, is good! She sounds good and nice guitar work all "around. Dude! You’ve got a nice mix of moods from song to "song. It all blends well, and the dynamic range is nice. The "female singer reminds me of The 5th Dimension/Age-Of- "Aquarius in one of the songs. Things That Make Me Cry is "really good - nice guitar. And I liked your vocals on the blues "number! Also, the vibes solo! This is good shit Bro!
"Nice solo in Let It Go, and sweet tone on the closer Dude - ROCK ON!”
COMMENTS FROM FANS ABOUT A RECENT SHOW
∆“This is a hot band!!!”
∆“You guys rocked hard last night! Great set.”
∆“We were so happy to be there! You guys are amazing!”
∆“Just wanted to let you know I have not been so entertained in a long time. It was just awesome - I can’t say no more. You have a new fan for sure, so keep me posted on your next gig.”
∆“It was our pleasure to be there and hear you play! Hope to make it to the next one as well!”
∆“You surprisingly fooled the shit out of me on how good you and the band are!!! Out standing.”
COMMENTS FROM MORE CRITICS:
by Peter Thelen, Published 2019-04-13 EXPOSE ONLINE & PRINT MAGAZINE
Zan Zone is a Brooklyn NY based seven-piece led by guitarist Zan Burnham. The band has three previous releases; the most recent was Shorts from 2013, but It’s Only Natural has an expanded lineup featuring three singers not counting Burnham (who sings on several numbers): Phillip Dessinger, Sabrina Clery, and Arianna Burnham. The female voice on “He’s Coming Home,” presumably Clery, is amazingly powerful and soulful, making that one of the standout tracks on this eleven song set, though a close second would have to go to the acoustic based “Things That Make Me Cry.”
On most of the cuts there are more than one singer, harmonizing and often alternating the lead. The rest of the band are outstanding players as well — drummer Kurt Bergland, bassist Saadi Zain, and in lieu of a keyboard player, vibraphonist Bill Ware. Their style is a point of confusion sometimes, they seem to be all over the map, mostly rock, pop, and alternative (whatver that is this week), but strong elements of jazz, soul, gospel, and folk inform their work as well. And blues, particularly on the almost-eight minute “Dem Blues Is Bad,” where Burnham’s neck-strangling guitar is spot on throughout, and the vibraphone solo is totally awesome, but Burnham’s “Blind Lime Burnham” vocal persona is just not convincing at all, almost irreverent, seeming to make the piece a joke.
The opening instrumental that gets it all going is “For the Rising Sun,” a powerhouse that showcases all the players nicely and a memorable composition to boot, while “Let It Go” is a hard rocker that seems to give early-Heart a run for their money, with Clery’s voice again reigning supreme. Any song here taken by itself is quite excellent, but all put together results in quite a remarkable hodge-podge of stylistic disorientation. All that said, it still grows on you with repeated listens.
“It took the Brooklyn, New York based band ‘Zan Zone’ three years to record the new album ‘It’s Only Natural’, the successor of the double cd ‘Shorts’ that was released in 2013. With great vocal performances of singers Sabrina Clery and Philip Dessinger, the 11 new songs composed by guitarist and songwriter Zan Burnham, are once again well worth listening and enjoying.“
From: BLASKAN - Swedish on-line Magazine
Micheles Kindh 6/22/18
The cover appears with the band's members in the form of a rock face. If I did not know better, it would be thought that it would be heavier rock instead of more of the esoteric rock.
The band makes a soaring rock music that gives the west coast rock face some jazzy leanings. but the foundation is solid and has a nice production. Eleven songs - of which the last one could easily be a tribute to a cultured champagne lover at Cecilia, which is where I know about the fizzing of the good luxury invigorating beverage. Yes, the music also has the feel of nice compositions. An interesting album to share. New York's finest!
From: Wolfgang Giese
MUSIC AND SUCH - GERMANY - August 2018
When the record "Shorts" was released a few years ago (2013), I became really excited about Zan Zone. Among other things I had noted at the time, that the music could expand upon the normal and possess a wild mix of completely different music styles. Ultimately, I found myself in a very good mood from the New York band.The creative head of the whole formation is Zan Burnham, and for well over twenty years he has been busy reconciling a variety of musical influences, and has been very successful and impressive at it as “Shorts" proved. The new record starts with an under three minutes instrumental introduction, "For The Rising Sun”, and it has elements of a rock ballad and jazz rock, with very harmonious melodies and guitar playing.On this new album, “It’s Only Natural”, the band is less experimental than they were on “Shorts”, yet the music is still outside of most mainstream styles. The music is based on rock, but with many influences that becomes quite colorful! Sometimes, there’s big choirs or danceable rhythms and grooves that remind me a bit of what I do not care for - but it's a lot of variety with the biggest elements now blues and rhythm & blues. Special attention should be given to the soul-infected ballad "He's Coming Home", with a great emotionally moving vocal contribution from Sabrina Clery. It’s a goosebump song, and includes a strong and empathetic performance on the guitar by Burnham. "Mystery" conjures up an atmospheric track of the sixties, similar especially to the band Fifth Dimension ("Up Up And Away”), and is adorned by the vibraphone of the jazz vibist Bill Ware.The longest song of the record is "The Blues Is Bad" with 7:42 minutes of playing time, and as the title suggests, the singer really sounds very angry, but it sounds a bit tounge-in-cheek, like persiflage. But as the piece progresses, telling of the day-to-day blues in an idiosyncratic life, in addition to classical guitar motifs and impeccably imitated bluesy, the choir really does not seem to fit into it, and the vibraphone does not really belong here either but that is what also makes the atmosphere of this music and distinguishes it as neither too purist nor serious about the music and - it finally becomes true music. It has joy that stands in the foreground and characterizes a passionate image, full of good humor, even if the blues are still so evil."Let It Go" is a true rocker and "These Dreams" even bears traces of Frank Zappa's music. Contrary to the song title, "Champagne Enthusiasm", the song that ends the album, is delivered relatively unenthusiastically, and is an almost “greasy-sounding” ballad - though it also reminds me a little bit more of Zappa.AND - I conclude with the same words with which I finished my consideration to “Shorts”in 2013: This music is so unusual, so unusually good, that I have to make another recommendation of Zan Zone!
From: ROOTSTIME BELGIUM 8/2018
Rhythm & Blues, rock'n'roll, folk, blues and jazz music: you get it all in a mix on the latest album "It's Only Natural" from the rock band 'Zan Zone' from Brooklyn, New York. When listening to the eleven tracks on this album you will be able to recall the sound that the elderly among us could already hear in the 60s and 70s of the then popular rock groups.
For more than twenty years guitarist and songwriter Zan Burnham has been hiding behind the pseudonym 'Zan Zone', which resulted in three studio albums and two albums. His first album "Zan Zone" dates back to 1995 and at the time produced performances in legendary New York clubs like 'CBGB's', 'Pyramid Club' and 'New Music Cafe'.
This sequel to the double album "Shorts", produced in 2013 by Zan Burham, contains eleven new songs for which he wrote the lyrics and the music. "It's Only Natural" was a long-term work in which the recording lasted from July 2015 to July 2017 and for which a whole series of musicians was gathered in the recording studio to create this CD. However, the core of 'Zan Zone' consists of singer-guitarist Zan Burnham, singer Sabrina Clery, singer Philip Dessinger, bassist Saadi Zain, drummer Kurt Bergland and vibraphonist Bill Ware.
We start with an instrumental intro titled "For The Rising Sun", after which Philip Dessinger sings the album title track "It's Only Natural". At "Where There's Smoke" we recall memories of the rhythmic sound of 'Talking Heads'. The pace then goes down considerably for the rock ballad "He's Coming Home" which is sung by Sabrina Clery.
The songs that have stayed the best after listening to the entire CD are the acoustic ballad "Things That Make Me Cry" (see live version on video), the dynamic rocking "Let It Go" and the excellent closing "Champagne". Enthusiasm ", another captivating ballad sung by Sabrina Clery. Just like with the previous album "Shorts" we are now again less impressed by the long drawn-out track "Dem Blues Is Bad" which almost 8 minutes the atmosphere of this record seriously disrupts and that is particularly unfortunate at this for the other nice picture of 'Zan Zone'.
From JP's MUSIC BLOG 2/9/19
Next we travel to Brooklyn, NY for the latest release from the modern rock band, Zan Zone. The new album titled "It's Only Natural" is the band's fourth in almost 25 years and features eleven tracks, beginning with the instrumental "For The Rising Sun." They continue by spreading the vibes of positive love with the alternative-pop tones of the title-song, "It's Only Natural." The band puts their skills on display during the electrifying solos of "Where's There's Smoke," before cutting back for the slow-burning ballad "He's Coming Home." Zan Zone expand upon their sound with the sonic blues of "Mystery" and "Dem Blues Is Bad," before closing up their new album with the uptempo, guitar-driven rocker "Let It Go" and the jazzy sway of "Champagne Enthusiasm." To find out more about Zan Zone and their latest release "It's Only Natural," please visit zanzone.com.
Zan Zone "It’s Only Natural" Own label, 2018
It is good to see a band take care in packaging their recording. The artwork and the humorous write-ups inside making this look like food packing with nutritional information is quite funny. As for the music, I was expecting something more exotic like a Dengue Fever perhaps. But Zan Zone plays a hybrid of older style R&B rock music with a modern indie rock flair. But while their overall style is not wildly eclectic, each song has highly distinctive and variable traits. There is blues, R&B, rocking soul, and many variations of rock music. It is a tasty stew and something that you should carefully examine at your local grocery. © David Hintz
Zan Zone 'It's Only Natural'
The band Zan Zone is coming out of Brooklyn, New York and is actually the brainchild of guitarist/vocalist Zan Burnham, along with vocalist Sabrina Clery, vocalist Philip Dessinger, bassist Saadi Zain, drummer Kurt Bergland and vibraphonist Bill Ware. They have been active since the mid 1990s and IT'S ONLY NATURAL is their latest effort, which took them several years to complete. Musically speaking it has a clear late 1960s/early 1970s approach, combining folkish melodies/harmonyvocals (The Byrds) and soulful female vocals with some experimental psychedelic pop/rock moves (a la Zappa) and also a bit of funky jazzy pop/rock of the Little Feat/Steely Dan kind, while 70s Zeppelin ish guitarwork is also present. The result is most of the time quite good and when hearing songs like Here I go again and Mystery you would imagine yourself it's 1972 or something. Let it go is the absolute hard rocking piece here, with soaring guitar solos and a catchy uptempo sound, where the female vocals make it sound like Tina Turner fronting a 70s Hardrockband. Quite a diverse record with a pure 60s/70s approach, so go find more info at: https://www.zanzone.com/
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
Zan Zone It’s Only Natural
Review by Gary Hill IN THE MUSIC STREET JOURNAL 9/2019
I can hear the conversation now. “What kind of a band do you want to put together?” “I would love to play jazz.” “Well, I want a blues rock band.” “I want to play some alternative rock.” “Hey, let’s do it all at once.” That seems like it might have been how this band started. From using both male and female (the majority of the time) vocals to never seeming to settle on a specific sound, this band seems to be all over the place. The thing is, it works well. If variety is the spice of life, then this act is about as lively as you get.
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
For the Rising Sun
This rises upward with a cool, almost proggy texture. It grows out from there to a cool rocking jam that again retains some progressive rock in the mix. It shifts toward some jazz-like structures as it continues. This has some smoking hot guitar soloing. This instrumental is classy stuff.
It's Only Natural
I dig this blues-rock-based number. It has a catchy chorus and the backing vocals really bring a lot of magic to the proceedings. This has some cool changes and is especially effective.
Where There's Smoke
There are some killer guitar riffs built into this thing. It’s a powerhouse tune that has some funk and soul in the mix. This is so classy. I love the duet vocal performance. The female vocals remind me at times of Grace Slick. This number is definitely one of the highlights of the disc.
He's Coming Home
A slower tune, this is based on powerful female vocals and a bluesy groove. There is a lot of emotion and power here. I love the crunch on the guitar.
Here I Go Again
I dig the cool rock and roll sound on this number. The vocals bring a bit of an alternative rock vibe. That said, there are some hints of modern prog built into this piece of music. This is quite a dynamic piece and has some seriously soaring moments.
There is definitely a proggy edge to this cut, too. It has a lot of psychedelia built into it. The multi-layered vocal arrangement feels a bit like something out of the 1960s. There is a dreamy air to this piece.
Things That Make Me Cry
A great balladic number, the female vocals on this cut really have a lot of style. There is a jazzy element to this piece.
Dem Blues Is Bad
The first couple minutes of this feature a very simple arrangement – one guitar and one voice. After that the other instruments join to drive the blues home with a lot of style. Backing vocals later lend some jazz to the mix. This thing is extended and really shows how a simple song can be expanded into a long track without getting boring by just changing up the arrangement throughout.
Let It Go
There is an almost metal edge to the guitar that creates a lot of this sound. The track has a driving hard rock texture. The vocals bring a bit of a soulful edge to it. This is a powerhouse number that’s among my favorites here.
This makes me think of Neil Young to a large degree. It has mellower sections mixed with more rocking ones that call to mind Young’s work with Crazy Horse. This is fiery.
A jazz ballad concept is on display here. The arrangement gets filled out a bit as the song continues, but the concept remains largely unchanged.
From the arts, comic books and musical review website, BABYSUE:
The first thing that caught our attention about this release was the packaging. These folks deserve some kind of award for their marketing approach. It's Only Natural refers to food, and on the cover the band member's heads are placed in a pile kinda like potatoes or onions or something. Open up the tri-fold digipak sleeve...and you'll find the "Musitional Facts" along with cans of each musician's heads. It's a cool approach that's not only funny, but thought provoking. Fortunately for all, it's also a good indication of what the music's like. The folks in Zan Zone write and record what might best be described as groove pop. There are all kinds of sounds and influences spinning around in the mix here, but groove pop probably sums things up best. The songs on this album are very rhythmic and melodic and they're also surprisingly accessible and catchy. This is the fourth full-length release from this Brooklyn-based band. Bandleader Zan Burnham has pulled together a diverse collection of songs, musicians, and sounds to create an album that could easily appeal to millions upon millions of music fans. The songs are friendly and funny and they're infused with a cool perspective on the world. Eleven captivating tracks including "For the Rising Sun," "He's Coming Home," "Dem Blues Is Bad," and "Champagne Enthusiasm."
A free-flowing flashback to the good ol' days of guitar rock, each and every one of the 11 tracks contains perfectly-prescribed melodies and grooves that will have you foot tappin' and hip swaying along, trust me!
This wondrous 47-minute long album kicks off with the soaring 'For The Rising Sun,' and then bleeds seamlessly into both the mid tempo title track and the infectious 'Where's There's Smoke.'
Sung by Sabrina Clery, the guitar ballad 'He's Coming Home' is next before Zan Zone's '90s pop rock vibe / vocal (Philip Dessinger) is brought to the fore on the great 'Here I Go Again.'
The quietly melodic 'Mystery' is next and is backed by the ethereal 'Things That Make Me Cry' (Clery) with the down south grit of 'Dem Blues Is Bad' along next.
Clery takes another strong grip on the vocals for the rampant rocker 'Let It Go,' before a lo-fi Americana 'These Dreams' is brought forth. Akin to anything Neil Young has lovingly created, the album rounds out with yet another Clery vocal on the gentle hip sway of the album closer, 'Champagne Enthusiasm.'
From mwe3.com - 11/2018
On-line music review website:
It’s Only Natural, the fourth album by Brooklyn-based rockers Zan Zone, features the music and vocals of band leader Zan Burnham. In the spirit of post-Americana bands like String Cheese Incident, band leader Zan gets excellent support from his Zan Zone band mates and his electric guitar work is first rate too. Blending, rock, jazz, blues and folk sounds, Zan Zone truly defies categories, and in doing so comes up with a highly entertaining combination of various musical styles. The lead off instrumental, “For The Rising Sun” is short but sweet and provides a solid intro to the eleven track CD. Hard to believe but Zan Zone has been going strong since the early 1990s and some astute listeners may remember the band’s 2013 double album called Shorts. Putting It's Only Natural into the special history of his band, Zan tells mwe3.com, “I’ve been focusing on original music since at least the early 1990s. Way back then, one of my back-up singers coined the name Zan Zone, and it’s been fun to use it since as a signpost and a shingle. While much of the time, I have been the primary lead singer, over the past few years, I’ve been lucky to have two amazing singers willing and excited to be a part of Zan Zone. As I’m the producer, it’s just been incredible to have Philip Dessinger and Sabrina Clery singing on so much of this album. Of course, I’m singing as well, along with my daughter, Arianna Burnham on a couple of songs. I really like group singing, and I notice that my vocal arrangements often seem to remind many people of the great 1960s vocal group, The Fifth Dimension and the Mama’s & the Papa’s, too.” In an era of downloads of mp3 files, one can only applaud Zan Zone and their superbly packaged album. The booklet is filled with eye-catching color photos and complete lyrics. With outstanding musicianship from a range of players and vocalists, It’s Only Natural is a must hear for fans of 21st century rock.
From SEA OF TRANQUILITY: The web source for Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, and Jazz/Fusion - 5/2019
I recently reviewed the Zan Zone CD Shorts (will be posting shortly) which I quite enjoyed. Well, the Brooklyn based guitarist Zan Burnham is back with his latest effort titled It’s Only Natural. Burnham has assembled a pretty fabulous band for this effort mostly in the melodic rock/singer/songwriter niche with forays into jazz and blues. Burnham is a good singer and an excellent guitar player with a strong sense of melody. These songs are all pretty catchy starting with the instrumental “For The Rising Sun” where the rhythms are irresistible and the fiery guitar solo never loses the melody. Next is the uplifting spirit of “It’s Only Natural”. The multiple vocals works very well and is a definite highlight. The retro ‘70s rock of “Where There’s Smoke” with its burning guitar and soulful vocals, the smoky ballad “He’s Coming Home” and the lazily floating “Mystery” featuring great playing from Burnham are more stand out tracks. For some blues you can’t go wrong with “Dem Blues Is Bad” and for pretty acoustic guitar “Things That Make Me Cry” should do the trick. It’s a heartfelt and emotive track straight from the heart. The disc ends with the jazz inflected retro pop of “Champagne Enthusiasm” featuring the best vocal arrangement on the disc.
It’s Only Natural is a very nice follow up to Shorts. If singer/songwriter retro pop rock with forays into blues and jazz is in your wheelhouse you really should give this one a spin. Very nice indeed.
Added: May 6th 2019
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
https://www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?op=showcontent&id=21764 release "It's Only Natural," please visit zanzone.com.
From UK instrumental music magazine - PIPELINE - Issue #111 - Spring 2019:
Another album that uses an instrumental to set the scene is IT’S ONLY NATURAL, by melodic guitar rock band, ZAN ZONE, For The Rising Sun being an expressive, soaring, guitar feature. www.zanzone.com
http://dmme.net/zan-zone-its-only-natural/ by Dimitry Epstein Toronto Canada
Brooklyn-rooted collective finally find their feet to try and walk away from blues that’s here to stay.
It took this ensemble five years to consolidate the various strands that made 2013’s “Shorts” to scatter all over the place in stylistic terms into something less extravagant yet more emotionally focused. What could be more organic, as the musicians maintain, than love – their principal concern? And concerned they are, indeed.
A wide-eyed wonder might unfold in “For The Rising Sun” but the opener’s optimistic outlook, taken higher and higher on guitar harmonies, will prove to be rather deceptive, with “Things That Make Me Cry” providing, further down the line, a more fitting – lyrically and acoustically – characteristic to the album’s main motif. As the title track sees gloom gather around its playful funk (yes, such scenario is possible in Zan Burnham’s six-string world where “natch” is a keyword), the tribal rumble of “Where There’s Smoke” suggests danger, Sabrina Clery and Philip Dessinger’s vocal dialogue invoking a “Gimme Shelter” shamanism, so there’s concept lurking on this record, a tongue-in-cheek one.
Even though the countrified balladry behind “He’s Coming Home” can’t probably refer to a certain “Sgt. Pepper’s” piece, the psychedelic jive of “Here I Go Again” plays mind games with the listener who’s bound to become increasingly transfixed by what’s going on there – and the transparent “Mystery” only intensifies this finely detailed state. Still, no way out wouldn’t be an option for this band and, distilling “Dem Blues Is Bad” to the leader’s jagged voice and raw strum before Marko Djordjevic’s drums and vibes spice it up, they turn grief into smile, while the heavy rockabilly of “Let It Go” has anxiety reinstated for “These Dreams” to get lost in electric despair. Fortunately, “Champagne Enthusiasm” – the record’s finale, a suitably scintillating old-time lounge lullaby – will lift the darkness for good to lend it to night-time… which is only natural and, therefore, must be real, making the album an endearing endeavor.
From New Zealand
ALL THINGS PROG:
HAILING FROM BROOKLYN ZAN ZONE HAVE RELEASED THEIR 4TH STUDIO ALBUM I￼N 25 YEARS and like the well respected jam band, Umphrey’s McGee make good use of blending a lot of musical styles including rock, folk, blues, jazz, and instrumentals together, which really favours them as a good outfit for Proggers to investigate and explore their catalogue starting with the band titled “Zan Zone” released in 1995. They performed extensively in New York in such places as CBGBs, The New Music Cafe,￼ Kenny’s Castaways, The Lone Star Roadhouse, Fat Tuesdays, The Bitter End, Arlene’s Grocery, The Pyramid Club, The Village Gate,and the list goes on. Then after a couple of EP’s and having to install a turnstile to cope with all the artists coming and going, in and out of the band they were down to a trio and released an all-acoustic CD, “Time And Materials” in 2009. for their next album in 2013, Zan Zone released a double-album humorously titled, “Shorts” The 73 minute CD with thirteen songs recorded over a three year period made good use of nineteen musicians and singers.
Which brings us to their latest album, “It’s Only Natural” (released 2018). The album was recorded at Atlantic Sounds Studio and Zanland Studios in Brooklyn with Grammys award winner, Diko Shoturma engineering. Zan explained in an interview almost all the tracks started with a live trio to give it a “real” feel. The album features three lead singers with Zan himself (as well as guitars), and Sabrina Clery and Phillip Dessinger. Zan’s daughter, Arianna Burnham also provided backing vocals. On drums, Kurt Bergland; Bill Ware on vibes, and Saadi Zain on bass.
Eleven tracks showcasing a good number of tastes and styles throughout starting with an instrumental titled “For the Rising Sun.” A quick and tasteful crescendo of building guitar that had me wondering for a second there what Utopia’s “Ra” would sound like if Steely Dan covered it. It has that kind of intro vibe. This is very much a guitar driven album in which band leader, Zan Burnham makes good use of his 12 guitars.
What follows is a good mix of rock and sometimes ballad pieces changing the mood. The album title track, “It’s Only Natural” is the second song which to these ears had a Bryan Adams/Neil Young feel to it with the vocals and melody. It’s catchy and uplifting and sets the tone for a good time to the end of the album.
One of the tracks I really enjoy listening to is the gentle down home and folksy number female vocal driven, “Things That Make Me Cry.” A track which also featured on their previous album, “Shorts” with a main male vocal. If you’re looking for an acoustic guitar, Joni Mitchell/Fleetwood Mac ballad song then this one is right up there. Same with “Mystery” with Zan, Sabrina, and Phil on vocals.
As said, they like to mix it up and the longest track is very much blues as the title of the song, “Dem Blues Is Bad” suggests. That’s followed by a fast pace hard rocking in your face, “Let It Go” and then notched down a few pegs to something more slower and sombre with “”These Dreams.”
Yeah, it’s not prog, but if you like artists such as Umphrey’s McGee and maybe even Phish then you’ll probably like what Zan Zone are doing here. It’s an easy album to have playing in the background and enjoy over a good meal and coffee.
You can visit the Zane Zone website at: www.zanzone.com and purchase the album at www.store.cdbaby.com/
THE HOUSEOFPROG REVIEWS ION!
Zan Zone: It’s Only Natural
by Kev Rowland | Jan 19, 2020
It was Mick Jagger who uttered the immortal words “I know it’s only rock ‘n’ roll but I like it”, and as I played this album for the millionth time they kept coming into my head as I wondered what on earth I was going to say about it.
Guitarist Zan Burnham is back with the fourth full-length album under the Zan Zone banner, although it has been quite a while since 2013’s ‘Shorts’. Musically this is all over the place, as the band refuse resolutely to stick within any particular genre, and why should they when they seem to have a control over all of them?
The only person I can think of to compare him with is Todd Rundgren, but I don’t think even the mighty wizard had so many different styles on a single album (I once saw him with a pick-up band playing nothing but blues, what a gig!).
Even the press release says they provide a “mix of instrumentals, pop, rock, tin pan alley, blues and bluesy Americana” but that doesn’t provide enough detail of what is a messy all-over-the- place collection of great songs.
Burnham is one of three lead singers, as he brings in musicians to get the best out of the material as he provides blues-based guitar, or slides along, or thumps it through while singers can provide wonderful harmonies, just whatever is needed. Listen to the opening verse of “Dem Blues Is Bad” with its overdriven single guitar and one can imagine that Lightnin’ Hopkins or Bukka White are back in the house.
To get the most out of this album one has to have a wide appreciation of different musical styles, but if you have a similar outlook to myself then this is an album to discover and savour.